In this era of digital establishments, the daily life of a person is almost fully dependent on apps. From getting up early in the morning to attending the meetings, traveling, and then so on. All our activities in daily life are circulating around the apps. So, why emphasize the app’s potential so much? Why is this never-ending debate about Native vs Cross-platform apps going on? Which type of app is better, Native or Cross-platform?
Firstly, let’s have a statistical overview. After that, we will discuss the pros and cons of native and cross-platform app development. According to a Statista report, global revenue from mobile apps in 2020 increased to over 318 billion U.S. dollars. Compared to 2019, this was an increase of over 60 billion U.S. dollars. The category having the most potential was the mobile gaming category. Surprisingly, it had revenue of over 200 billion U.S. dollars. Social networking mobile apps had a revenue of around 31 billion dollars. This intensifies the debate of native vs cross-platform app development.
The Statista Digital Market Outlook has estimated that app revenue across most segments will increase over the next few years. And revenue will reach around 613 billion U.S. dollars by 2025. Owing to this, investors and business owners have an eye on app development. When deciding to develop an app, there are three platforms. Native, Cross-Platform, and Hybrid. In this article, we are going to discuss the most common approaches to developing mobile apps. Native vs Cross-platform app development.
What is a Native app?
Native apps are the type of apps developed only for a specific operating system. Similarly, it uses a platform-specific programming language to build the app. While developing an app for Android, Java, and Kotlin are the languages available. Similarly, Objective-C and Swift are the programming languages to code in when building iOS apps.
Native mobile apps are usually high-performing apps and deliver the utmost experience to the user. This is because developers already have access to the primary hardware elements of smartphones. The hardware could be GPS, cameras, microphones, proximity sensors, etc.
Pros of Native apps
Native mobile apps are steadfast and make the best use of resources to use the platform’s potential to its fullest. Additionally, these are compiled using less complex code. It handles these apps to become high-performing on other platform apps like cross-platform or hybrid ones.
It is the beauty of native app development that the developer has creative freedom. He/she can access every single tool present within the platform you’re working on.
One of the most prominent benefits of native apps is that they are easily accessible with all their features even in the absence of an internet connection. This ensures the app’s ultimate convenience.
Handling a single codebase to develop the app is more reliable than handling two or more codebases like in cross-platform development. Native apps end up having fewer flaws due to having less complexity in writing code.
While creating native apps, developers have to be limited to the specific platform instructions as they are made for a particular platform and this turns out to be the best possible outcome of the app.
Cons of Native apps
Native apps don’t have many cons as such but time consumption and high cost are the two major drawbacks that are to be considered. This is one of the reasons that native apps win the game when it comes to native vs cross platform app development.
More Time Consuming
Native apps require more time to build as the code is written for one platform, particularly. Designing UI/UX for each of the platforms (iOS & Android) will significantly increase the development time.
When building apps for iOS and Android separately, will require more cost as two teams will be working on each platform individually. More time consumption means more cost spent.
What are Cross-Platform apps?
Cross-platform app development has emerged as the unique choice of businesses that aim for a presence on both Android and iOS. As developers have wished for a codebase that supports all mobile phones, cross-platform apps have fulfilled their wish of creating an app that would simultaneously be compatible with all the operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows).
As cross-platform apps have reduced development time, there could be a risk of losing the quality of the product you have been working on. Because writing a single codebase for multiple platforms could result in a lack of preciseness or accuracy.
PROS of Cross-platform app development
A major advantage of cross-platform app development is that the code written for programming can be used again and again for multiple objectives and platforms. This identifies developer-end ease and workflow alignments. This reduces the repetition of tasks and saves time.
Low Cost and Fast Development
The cost to build the app ultimately reduces as a single team of developers writes the whole code. The fast development process is another plus point when creating cross-platform apps.
Having similar interactive experiences and graphical interfaces, cross-platform apps are native in nature. This makes cross-platform apps responsible for providing a smooth experience as native apps.
While developing a cross-platform app, a single and a general app is compatible for running on all platforms. This makes it easier to maintain and use the code according to the changes. Updates are synced using a prompt across all platforms and devices, thus saving time and money. Moreover, if an error occurs in the common codebase, it only needs to be fixed once.
CONS of Cross-platform app development
When it comes to an app’s performance, native apps win the game. It involves several factors like heavy app size, the rendering process, and indirect code interaction with the device. These make cross-platform apps perform slower.
Difficulty in Accessing Hardware
Unlike native apps, cross-platform apps cannot access the device hardware easily. We always have to tackle compatibility issues and problems with plugin integration. Finally, this ends up occupying a lot of the app’s storage.
Complex Development Structure
It requires a team of skillful developers to build apps that are compatible with many platforms. Whenever you need to add a complex feature, you’ll have to look into the minor differences between operating systems and the hardware they run on.
You Should Develop a Native App When:
- You want to make an app that delivers the best user experience. Moreover, if you want to give full access to your device’s hardware functions (GPS, Camera, etc.).
- Need to add the updates periodically and put the enhanced features easily.
- You want to step into the animation and 3D games category.
- There is the need to code specifically for one platform.
You Should Develop a Cross-platform App When:
- Both iOS and Android users are your targeted audience.
- You are ready to bear the app’s low-performing experience (may be not).
- The owner has a limited budget and needs to develop the app faster.
- You want to develop an app having less complicated logic and fewer functionality variations.
The Final Verdict
That was pretty much it for the pros and cons of native vs cross-platform mobile app development. Now, you must admit the fact that both types of apps have their own advantages and disadvantages. You cannot declare one winner among these two.
By identifying your business needs and the targeted audience, you can decide which type of app to go with. Although native and cross-platform apps are quite similar, the gap forms in the development process. Native apps have better UI capabilities than cross-platform ones.